Paying Tax As an International Freelance Writer

Here's the question: If you live in one country and you're earning money from another country, where do you pay tax?

I know we've covered this topic before and you can even find the original post right here (http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/03/international-freelance-writing-and.html). Unfortunately, I still receive a LOT of emails asking me to answer this question again.

So let's get into some detail. Please understand that I'm going to get just a little bit repetitive here, but there's a reason for it. You see, the original example I gave in the post noted above didn't seem to make sense to people. For this reason, I'm going to try hard to make it as clear as I possibly can.

Before we get into it, I need to point out that as a freelance writer, you are self-employed.

You may get lots of work from one company, or you may have lots of clients paying you in various currencies, but your tax bill is not their concern. It's yours. You're a business owner, selling your products to clients.

With that said, let's take a look at an example of one international writer working for various international companies.

Example One:
Let's say you live in Australia and you want to work for a UK company earning UK pounds. You also have another client who is in the USA. Does this mean you have to pay tax in the UK and in the USA?

Easy answer: NO. You do not.

Detailed answer: If you live in Australia and you're earning UK pounds and US dollars, then chances are you need to convert those currencies over to regular old Australian dollars before you can spend them. This means you need to write down or keep track of the number of Australian dollars those different currencies added up to. This amount, in AUD, is the amount you report to the Australian Tax Office.


No matter WHERE you live in the world and no matter WHAT currency you earned from an international company, you can easily convert that to your own local dollars so you can spend it. This local-dollar amount is the amount your OWN taxation department, right there at home, wants to know about.

I'll explain why:

Exporting 101

When you write something, you're creating a product. That product was created right on your own computer. Let's say you live in America. This means your product was created right there in America.

If you live in India, your product was created right there in India. If you live in England, you have an English-made product. If you're in Singapore or Malaysia or Canada or South Africa or New Zealand or Zimbabwe, you still created that product wherever it is you live.  If you live on Mars, you are the proud owner of a Martian product. You get the point, right?

Okay. So YOUR product was created wherever it is you work from and it's a product of the country in which you live.

Then you went and sold it to a foreign company and they paid you with foreign currency. This is called exporting. You made a product locally and you sold it overseas. Cool, huh?

But the money you earned was brought back to your local workplace and spent locally. This means you would have exchanged it over to your local currency so you could spend it. The amount of money you exchanged DOES have a local-currency value. This is the amount you report to your own local taxation department.

You don't need to report it to the country from which that foreign currency derived. You don't need to pay tax in that foreign country, because you're not earning it from there. You're simply an international exporter, selling your written products to buyers who don't live where you live.

Now It Gets Tricky

When you exchange a foreign currency amount over to your local currency, you'll find that the exchange rate is not the same from day to day. This is important to remember. As the values fluctuate so often, you simply can't expect to write down all the bits you earned internationally at the end of the tax year and get it right.

You really need to do it on the same day you exchange it. Write it down. Enter it into your spreadsheet or accounting software immediately. But don't just write down the amount of local money you received. Your taxation department will need more information than this.

You see, if you earned 100 British Pounds for your writing and you converted that to US dollars, you would have received $154.13 US dollars
(correct as of 30 December 2011 = 1GBP=1.541USD)

Your taxation department will want to know that you have records documenting how much you earned in foreign amounts, but also how much you declared in your LOCAL currency for tax purposes.

It seems like a pain to do this, but many tax offices around the world will offer some very cool incentives to people and companies that export goods around the world. I'm not going to go into that here, as I'm in Australia and I only know lots about our own cool incentives. Your accountant can tell you more about your own cool exporting benefits.

Example Two:
Let's make this example a little trickier than the first. Let's assume I'm an Australian and I'm taking a working holiday in Thailand, where I need to spend Thai Baht in order to eat and pay for cool day trips to visit tigers and elephants, or to buy umbrella drinks from the pool bar. But my client pays me in UK pounds. Then another client places an order and pays me in US dollars, but I'm still partying my way around Phuket, writing in style from my resort balcony only when I'm not in the pool.

Now where do I pay tax?

1) In Thailand? That's where I was when I created the product.
2) In England? That's where the UK pounds came from.
3) In America? That's where the US dollars cam from.
4) In Australia? That's where my exporting business is registered and where I am a permanent resident.

The answer is number 4: where my business is registered and where I live normally.

No matter which country you change it to, no matter where you live, and no matter what currency you need to spend to pay your bills - if you earn a foreign currency and you convert it over to your own money at home, you pay tax right there at home in your own currency amounts.

Easy, huh?

I hope this clears up the international tax questions a bit more for you all :)


Text Broker is Now Accepting International Writers

A while back, I did mention TextBroker as a paying freelance market for US writers (the original post is here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/01/textbroker-paying-freelance-market.html)

However, yesterday I received an email letting me know that TextBroker is opening a European branch to allow native-English speaking writers from the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia to apply. The UK Text Broker site is here: http://www.textbroker.co.uk

Now, being a cheeky Australian, I actually managed to join up with the US-version of Text Broker for a short time. They INSIST that writers supply a W-9 form in order to continue writing for them. I obviously can't do this, as a W-9 states that I'm an American citizen paying tax in the US. I'm not. I'm a sun-burned Aussie paying tax to the good ol' Australian Tax Office.

However, I joined up and was immediately issued a 'rating 3'. Apparently everyone begins at rating 3 until they've written a few articles for clients to prove their writing levels. On the US site, it took me a week to get moved up to level 4. I reached the $200 threshold (and thus couldn't write any more without a W-9) before I could be rated again.

Oops  ;)

Once your articles have been rated by the clients and checked by TextBroker staff, you're either moved up to a rating of 4 or 5 stars - or dropped down to a rating of 1 or 2 stars - or you might even stay where you are at 3 stars.

Either way, your rating is determined by the quality of writing you submit.

With the US TextBroker site, your pay rate is determined by your star-rating. The UK-version of TextBroker is exactly the same.

Pay for the UK site will be in Euros via Paypal. You will need to have a balance of €10 or higher to be eligible for pay out. Payments are made on the 6th of each month.

Pay Rates with TextBroker UK

The pay rates for a regular 500 word article are as follows:

2 stars: €3.50 (approx $4.70 USD)
3 stars: €4.50 (approx $6.04 USD)
4 stars: €6.00 (approx $8.05 USD)
5 stars: €20.00 (approx $26.88 USD)

These pay rates equate to the following amounts per word:

2 stars: 0.7 cents Euro
3 stars: 0.9 cents Euro
4 stars: 1.2 cents Euro
5 stars: 4 cents Euro

So - if you're in the UK, Europe, Canada or Australia and you want to join TextBroker, visit http://www.textbroker.co.uk. They're accepting writer applications now before opening up the site to clients, but work is expected to start coming through in the next week or so.

Good luck!

Edit: As a side-note, I wonder if their editors will make allowances for the differences in acceptable punctuation and grammar between UK English and the heavily-modified US-English styles? Again, I'll update this post when I learn more.


Facebook: Social Networking Business Tool or Freelance Career Killer

Yes, I have a Facebook account. Yes, I have some friends and even some clients on there. Everyone seems to believe networking through Facebook is the way to develop and enhance a freelance writing career. I haven't found any  new clients through Facebook. I haven't gained any extra work through Facebook. I admit I've met some writers along the way, but that's about it.

And so, I have days and even weeks when I forget to log into my account at all.

So, why is it that so many writers who really need to be working hard to make the money they need to pay bills or mortgage or other expenses spend hours and hours per day sitting on Facebook chatting with friends or playing time-wasting games?

Is this a secret way of saying they don't really feel like being a professional writer today?

Or is it a complete lack of respect for the responsibility of the self-employed lifestyle they chose when they decided they didn't want to work a 9-to-5 job where they had no Facebook access at all?

I see it a lot: writers who complain that they can't find enough work or can't earn enough to pay the bills. They stress, whine and complain about staying up really late at night to catch up with overdue workloads. They leave paying orders they have accepted sitting unwritten for days and days and days....

And then you see those same writers playing or chatting on Facebook for three hours at a stretch, a couple of times a day. You shake your head in disbelief when you see writers who have submitted 88,000 words to a non-paying fan-fiction website just for kicks, even though I'm the lucky writer who gets to complete their actual PAID overdue work they didn't bother to complete - even though they moan that they can't afford to pay rent.

I don't know about you, but when I'm working, I like to .... you know.... WORK!

This means I'll sort through my schedule. I'll plan what I'm going to write for the day. I'll shut down my email program, turn off Skype, take my phone off the hook, crank up the stereo and sit my butt down to earn my mortgage-payments.

Sure, I get clients complain that it took me two hours to get back to them. They want to know why I don't respond to my emails or Facebook messages or Skype calls that instant. Of course, there are some clients who forget about the 16+ hour time difference and decide to try and contact me while I'm snoring soundly in the middle of the night.

But I explain it to them clearly: when I'm working, I'm really working. I'm not chatting. I'm not socializing. I'm not playing. I'm not networking. I'm not surfing the net, or goofing off in front of a movie. All of those things are left for when I've finished work for the day, completed outstanding orders and made the money I need to keep a roof over my head.

After all, I have a mortgage to pay. I have a daughter to feed. I have bills to pay and a myriad of other financially-related things to worry about. The last thing I need to be doing is wasting time playing with "social networking".

So.... tell me what I'm missing here. Should I spend hours of my day chatting on Facebook to other writers who are also complaining about not earning enough? Or is social networking a complete waste of time for a professional freelancer?

You tell me.


Have I Told You Lately How Much I Love My Job?

It's true. I really do love my job. I love writing. I love researching information that clients want. I enjoy the challenge of finding a way to say the things clients want said in just the right way.


I have the best job in the world.

And yet.... there are days when I would happily strangle some clients. I'd happily strangle other writers. I'd happily throw rocks at people who tell me that I sit at home and do nothing all day except "play" on the Internet.

But those days are the exception.

The majority of the time, I spend my days doing what I love best. I write. I wake up, take my daughter to school, take the dog for a run, go to the gym, shower - and then sit down to write for the rest of the day in one solid block of uninterupted writing flow.

Some days I might write about things I don't particularly enjoy. Clients order the weirdest things sometimes. So I remind myself that the privilege of sitting at home, getting to enjoy my lifestyle is worth the annoyance of painful topics.

And then there are days like today, where I get to write about topics I truly love and enjoy for hours on end. No interuptions. No annoyances. Just the pure bliss of writing fun stuff until it was time to pick up my daughter from my mother's place at dinner time.

I'm grateful that I don't have to fight with traffic every day to commute to the city. I'm grateful that I get to spend precious time with my daughter. I'm ecstatic that I get to earn more money sitting at home than I could earn working at the bank. I'm so very happy that I get to do what I love most all day, and I'm seriously thrilled that I have the opportunity to live my life feeling free, rather than feeling shackled to a j.o.b.

So - if I said so lately, I feel that I should remind you (in case you forgot)....

Have I told you lately how much I love my job?

I really do


Should Freelancer Writers Negotiate for Better Deals?

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm going to talk about negotiating for higher rates of pay, lower word counts, or easier keyword topics.

And you're wrong.

I'm actually talking about negotiating for the services and products you use in order to make your freelance writing income happen in the first place.

You see, I understood fairly early in my freelancing career that if I could keep my living expenses and costs to a minimum, I actually wouldn't need to earn nearly so much to live very comfortably. By this, I mean paying off credit card debt, personal loans, other pointless expenses that don't add to your quality of life. All they do is eat your income every month, so you end up working for the bank instead of for yourself. So I did all that and paid them all off. I have no personal debt (outside of the mortgage), I bought solar panels for the house, grow my own organic vegetables, and cook healthy meals at home. Yay me. I reduced my expenses beautifully, so my income really IS mine to spend - and not everyone else's.

However, I still have a mortgage. I still have to pay for Internet provision. I still need a mobile phone. I still pay insurance premiums. And I still need to put fuel in the car, even if I do work at home 98% of the time.

So I decided on Monday that I was going to conduct a little "experiment". (Actually, the experiment was really for an article I'm researching/writing for an Aussie magazine, but it's still valid here too).

I looked at my costs for the things I need and wondered if there was a way to reduce the amounts I pay, yet still get the same - or even better - products, services or provisions. Then I jumped online and did a quick search for competitor's companies offering the same services, products or provision. I compared the costs with what I'd receive in return. I made lots of notes.

And then I called my own provider, bank, or insurance company and told them what I'd found. I told them that I was thinking about switching to take advantage of those better deals. Here are my results:

- My bank reduced my mortgage interest rate by a further 0.8% off the interest rate I was paying previously. That reduces my mortgage payment each month and reduces the amount of interest I'll pay over the rest of the term. YAY!

- My bank also upgraded my credit card to a Platinum card from a regular credit card - even though I'm one of those annoying customers who pays all bills with it at the beginning of the month, and then pays it all off before any interest can be charged. They make no profit out of me, yet they still upgraded it.

- My mobile phone provider gave me a brand new Samsung Galaxy phone - you know, the cool, new smart-phone with Android operating system, without me having to pay any extra on what I currently pay, rather than see me leave. Woo hoo!

- My mobile phone provider also offered me a new Samsung Galaxy 8" Tablet PC as part of the same "business" package, that is connected to the same data allocation as my mobile phone. Yay :)

- My Internet service provider agreed to upgrade me to super-high speed broadband, with an unlimited data transfer amount, and dropped my access bill by $10 per month at the same time, rather than see me leave. Hee hee!

- My insurance company agreed to offer me a 10% discount off my current premiums because I have my house, car and contents all insured with them. Woo hoo.

So, what's the point of all this?

The point is - the vast majority of freelance writing tips you read around the place are very focused on telling you how to get your income up, how to work harder, how to ruin your wrists and your eyesight by working longer hours and writing more stuff. They focus on ways for you to work into the night trying to establish blogs or other sources of revenue.

I'd rather make it easier for you to spend less money so you don't have to write nearly so much to still enjoy a great lifestyle. It means you get to enjoy writing a little more, but also face much less stress about having to earn so much to cover your bills.

Have fun calling your own service providers with what you find on your own research. I know I did.


Recession Proofing Your Freelance Income

One of the biggest benefits of being an international freelance writer is the ability to completely recession-proof my business.

Did you know that when the Global Financial Crisis hit, my business actually got busier and more profitable? I didn't struggle to find new clients and I noticed existing clients began to order more than usual as well. Yet I know plenty of people who really had a hard time when the economy turned down.

So let's look at ways to avoid that ever happening to your freelance business - and how you can recession-proof your own income easily.

Income Streams

Consider this: if you had one full-time job as an employee, you'd get paid every week (or fortnight, or month - whatever). You pay your bills and your living expenses using this income, because it's regular and it's safe. Right?

However, what happens when that employer decides he doesn't need you any longer, or the business goes broke and fires all its employees? What happens to your 'regular' income then? And how will you pay your bills if you can't find another job to replace that one?

The vast majority of people have one sole, lonely stream of income they call a "salary". This leaves them vulnerable to changes in the economy, changes in the work-force, and changes in the company in which you work. It leaves you dependent on working 8 hours a day for someone else's business too.

But if you had another form of income coming into your household at the same time, would the loss of that J.O.B. really hit you so hard?

Imagine if you had two employers, both paying you regularly. If one decided they no longer wanted to hire you, you would still have an income coming into the household simply because you have that secondary income stream.

Now take that thought a little further and imagine if you had six or seven regular income streams. If one stopped, you might notice a bit of a drop in income, but you wouldn't go broke.

Creating Multiple Streams of Income

The idea of "multiple streams of income" isn't new. In fact, investors have been doing this for centuries, deriving alternative sources of income from rent received as landlords, or by earning dividends on stocks they own, or from royalties earned on book sales, inventions and other goodies.

The Internet has just made creating various revenue streams far more interesting and easier for most people to access.

For a freelance writer, the ability to generate multiple streams of income has never been easier than it is right now. Look for clients in different parts of the country, or even international clients. This reduces your risk of becoming dependent on one particular client or company and it protects you in the event of one particular geographical location suffering from an economic downturn.

Diversifying Your Income

The key to really recession-proofing any business at all is to understand about diversifying your income a bit and broaden your debtor base.

Think about where you derive the bulk of your freelance writing income from right now. This is your primary source of income. If that source is a content mill, offering lots of steady work at average rates, at least you know you always have that to fall back on.

Now think about any other alternatives you might have to add to your current income without impacting too far on the time it takes to generate your primary income.

You might go out in search of new private clients who pay a little higher than your content mill work earns. While your private clients might not order regularly, when they do order, you have a way to earn a little more than usual.

Aim at some higher paying markets in between your content-mill pursuits. Magazines are always in need of well-researched articles. Approach the editor of a niche magazine about a topic that interests you and see if they'll be willing to pay you for your efforts. You might be surprised by the answer.

You might not have the time (or inclination) to apply to a second content mill, so why not consider selling some extra work directly on Constant Content? You get to choose what topics you write about and you get to set your own prices. These guys pay out twice a month for amounts over $5, so it could be a handy bit of extra cash you didn't have before.

You might prefer to spend a little of your spare time working on more creative pursuits. Short fiction still sells very well and can be great fun to write. There are plenty of paying short fiction markets out there.

Some writers might prefer to take a break from writing articles and web content, but still want to add to their incomes a little. You might try a bit of Paid Forum Posting as a side-income. This is where you contribute to making someone else's forum look busy and you get paid for your efforts.

It makes absolutely no difference what you choose to do - this is YOUR business, after all. You have the freedom to build it in whatever way suits you best. The key is to find things you enjoy. Work with clients who treat you well. Break into other areas that interest you.

Then reap the benefits of having various income streams arriving in your account multiple times a week.

Alternative Currencies

I know I've said it before, and many writers simply don't get the point, but earning your freelance writing income in various currencies other than your local dollars can really protect you against a fall in the value of your own local dollar.

Here's a direct example: When I first started freelancing, the American Dollar was worth far more than the pitiful Australian dollar. In fact, $1 little pathetic Aussie dollar was worth about 0.52 cents per American dollar I was earning. So it made good sense back then for me to charge my clients in US dollars.

Logically, whatever I charged in US dollars could be converted to almost double again in Aussie dollars, so I was doing well.

Then the values all changed. The poor little Aussie dollar is now worth more than the US dollar. In fact, if I charged my American clients the same amount now as I did a couple of years ago, I'd be taking a pay cut. The Aussie dollar is now worth $1.10 for every $1 US dollar. That's a pay cut of more than half for doing the same work load.

If you're serious about your freelance business, you'll learn about how other country's currencies can benefit or hinder your income progress amounts. It really does make a difference to understand how various currencies can affect your overall profits or losses. I know this because I take very careful note of the exchange rates every day of my life.

Freelance writers really do have plenty of ways to keep income rolling into the household without ever needing to be reliant on one employer, one company or one client.


Self-Employed Freelance Writer or Low Paid Employee?

Recently, I met a freelance writer who is a very strong writer. She's disciplined. She follows client instructions. She sticks to deadlines. She takes on more work than a mother with two young kids should. And yet her spouse believes she doesn't have a "real job".

It never ceases to amaze me how biased some people can be against self-employed freelance writers. Believe it or not, there are really people out there who believe the life of a full time freelance writer consists of sleeping in until 10am before playing Facebook games all day.

These same biased people don't seem to see the hours of research, the long hours of sitting alone, writing countless articles or press releases or reviews, and trying to stick to insane deadlines set by clients who seem to believe we're all capable of writing 20,000 words a day with only 24 hour notice. All of this is done, by the way, while looking after a home, raising children, cooking meals and still being a wonderful spouse.

Yet, when pay-day arrives and there really is money sitting in the bank account, all those hours of sitting around and doing "nothing" actually seem to make sense to those who don't live in this world every day.

So how does a freelance writer explain the nature of being self-employed to a spouse or loved one who is determined to believe that working at Wal-Mart for $10 is a better option?

Is setting out to find a part-time "J.O.B" really worth the effort? Should you look for something that will give you regular hours every evening that means you need to give up your precious time with your kids? Is it worth it to miss out on time alone with your spouse while you're out earning minimum wage for a j.o.b?

More importantly, is it worth the extra cost to pay for fuel to drive to that job, the extra cost of paying for work clothing, cooking less healthy meals for your family, buying take-out more frequently to make up for being tired, paying for baby-sitters, putting up with managers telling you how to do your job and all the other tiny little bits of cr@p that go along with earning minimum wage?

Or is it worth the effort to show these freelance-biased people just how and why they're so WRONG in their thinking?

Of course I think the latter. Let's get into it in a little more detail:

Earning More Money

As a freelance writer, the amount you earn is 100% dependent on you. The amount you write, the type of work you accept, and the clients you choose will all play a part in determining your income. If you really sit down and apply your butt to your chair, get those fingers working on your keyboard and actually WRITE, you'll make money.

Work out what you're capable of writing in an hour of solid work and charge accordingly. Be sure you charge your clients more money than you could earn flipping burgers at McDonalds.

Spending Less Money

The vast majority of freelance writers fail to accept that working at home also means you need to earn less money to live more comfortably. You don't need to earn so much to pay for fuel or car maintenance or repairs. You just need to walk to your computer.

You don't need expensive uniforms or fashionable work clothes. You just need to be wearing something comfortable enough to allow you to sit and work.

You don't need to buy expensive take-out lunches when it's far easier to make a simple sandwich in the kitchen.

Add up the amount you're NOT spending and you'll soon find that you're able to live far more comfortably working at home than you could if you were heading out to work part-time.

Tax Advantages of Being a Self-Employed Freelance Writer

One thing serial-employees really don't understand is how badly they have it as employees. You see, they earn an hourly rate, which is then taxed at exorbitant rates. Then they receive their "in-hand" pay - the amount they get after tax is already automatically deducted, along with health insurance. From this remaining "in-hand" amount they receive, they're expected to pay bills, buy food, pay for fuel, keep the Internet connected, contribute to their 401k (or superannuation, depending in which country you live) and then put some aside for savings.

How very backwards.

Yet a self-employed freelance writer has the luxury of earning their money first. They get to pay their phone bill, Internet bill, pay for computer upgrades, deduct home office equipment, including printers, stationary, software, pens, desks, chairs and other fun tax deductible stuff that is the same in almost EVERY country.

After they've paid for the deductible things they want and need in order to continue earning a freelance income, they are taxed on what's left over. This means they earn similar amounts of money, but they pay for the things they need for their business with pre-tax dollars. They pay less tax in the long run, which gives them more money at the end of the day.

Of course, this is where most people who are stuck in the "employee mindset" really struggle. These are the people who simply don't understand that it's also their responsibility to with-hold their own taxes from the amounts they earn. They forget they need to pay their own insurance, pay their own health premiums - basically take some real responsibility for running a real business.

A true freelancer cherishes taking responsibility for the business-aspect of being a freelance writer. This includes learning what can and can't be deducted as part of operating a business from a home-office.

Yet all the while, a freelance writer is still "sitting at home playing on the Internet"

The Best Part of All

The very best part about being a self-employed freelance writer is the ability to enjoy your children growing up. You're not off working as a miserable low-paying employee while someone else cares for your kids. You're at home, able to work your schedule around their needs. You don't get to miss that first step, that first tooth coming out, that first day of school - all those important things far too many parents miss out on.

You can get up and prepare dinner in your time without having to struggle through peak-hour traffic for an hour first.

You can catch up with friends when it suits you to do so and then catch up your workload aroundd this.

So Why Don't Employees Understand?

Serial employees only ever think of the "regular" pay check they receive each week. They don't understand that the nature of being self-employed is all about taking responsibility for being self-disciplined and working around a schedule. They don't understand about finding clients or sticking to deadlines. They don't even understand that sometimes you'll get paid once every two weeks - but other times you'll be paid 4 times in a week.

They only see that they are given a set number of hours to work. They work them and they get paid on a regular basis. Nothing is ever mentioned about their productivity or effectiveness or accountability or responsibility. They just get paid and they like the certainty and regularity.

Maybe this is why they're paid so poorly?

Employees don't have the freedom to increase their income by raising their rates. They don't have the ability to diversify their incomes and bring in extra streams of cash. They can't find better clients who will cherish them and place bigger orders that add up to even more money overall. They can't just decide to do a bit of extra work when it suits them in order to earn a few extra dollars here and there.

But freelance writers can do all these things.

So the next time a serial-employed person dares to tell you to go out and "get a real job" - tell them to learn a bit about how business works before they dare to question what you're doing



More Writers Wanted!

Yes folks, I have another friend who is searching for good, reliable writers. Not just article writers this time. This particular job will suit anyone looking for some paid forum posting, paid blog commenting or paid Twitter posting as well as writing articles.

So if you're interested in picking up some extra writing work, the details about how to apply are below this post.


Here's what she needs:

For forum posters;
We are looking for writers who can succinctly state their opinions, likes or dislikes. Forum posts have a minimum word count of only 25 words, and as a result you need to be able to make an interesting point briefly, rather than just writing 'filler' posts.

We also require proper use of English grammar and spelling, though both US and UK spelling is tolerated for applications. Some job sites require the spelling and grammar conventions of just one country however.

The ability to properly use paragraphs is also required, in order to make longer posts make sense.

Applicants must be able to follow instructions, and in order to establish this there is a set application process that they must work through.

Lastly we are looking for people who can interact with other politely. Those who are short with others, or worse-are rude-will be rejected.

Never do we mention that we are paid to be on a website, and never do we do anything that makes us stand out. Our job is to blend in, and make it seem like we are just another member who has stumbled across the website and has decided to join and to post.

For Twitter jobs;
This is a little more specialized. Twitter allows only 140 characters per tweet, and as such, Twitter posts must be even more succinct. It is also important to be able to use as many of the 140 characters as possible, and to be able to make a big impact with those very short statements.

For blog jobs;
Here it is important to read the material given and be able to reply appropriately, so this requires a slightly higher level of comprehension than other jobs do.

Third party posting jobs;
Occasionally we are hired to write posts on other people's websites that advertise a particular product. This may be by mentioning the product in passing, or by using our signature space to advertise. These jobs require a big effort in order to have the writer fit in with the members already there, and we must blend in or else the campaign is likely to fail.

For article writers;
Now here it is a little harder to lay out the requirements. It is fair to say that successful applicants must have the skills previously laid out. But there is a lot more to it.

In order to write an article and do it well, you must have an excellent grasp of written English. You must be able to use grammar and spelling correctly, as well as use the appropriate phrasing at the appropriate times.

It is important that articles are written with a more text book version of English than you may otherwise use, because this enables it to be understood by people from around the world. In the UK we call this 'Queen's English', or 'BBC English'. Unfortunately, the use of colloquialisms and local phraseology can be confusing as those terms tend to only be understood by people from the areas in which the colloquialisms originate. Since the web is world wide, we want to be able to reach as big an audience as possible.

Additionally there is a distinct need to be able to carry a train of thought, and to organize thoughts into a logical progression throughout the article. There needs to be a beginning, a middle that fleshes out the theme and a conclusion-just like writing a story.

Potential article writers will do well if in high school or college, they were able to complete written assignments comfortably. Avid readers are also likely to do well, if they are able to emulate the authors that they read. Those people who are exposed frequently to high quality English writing are going to do better than those who only read the 'scandal' media, or worse. No IM or text speak is tolerated, and it must be remembered at all times that written work is professional and not for pleasure.

This means that it is important to discuss the themes and opinions that the client wants, and to express the bias that matches their website. If they are selling a particular product then you would sing it's praises-but within the realms of reality. You would not discuss the bad points associated with the product you are writing about.

Articles are almost never written in the first person, with the exception being a client that requests a first person point of view. Instead an extreme third person is used-you never discuss your own thoughts or feelings and don't talk about things that happen to you. Articles must be detached from your own life, and though it is OK to use your own experiences, you should do so in a way that makes the article seem neutral. Again, there are exceptions to this rule but then this will be stated.

The final point applies to any of the jobs that we have. Writers are expected to always take the client and their needs into consideration. It is common sense that if we are writing on a forum that is on a website that sells a certain piece of software, that you wouldn't instead write about their biggest competitor. We don't link to external sites unless it is a requirement of the job, as we may instead end up sending traffic away from the client who has hired us.

Across the board, all of our jobs require the ability to research the subjects that you are working on. Even those subjects that you are familiar with will occasionally need a more obscure question looking up, and for that reason, anyone applying for a position with us must be comfortable with researching online.

Humility is the last and most important characteristic of a member of our staff. Never be too proud to ask where something is unclear. For that leads to errors and unhappy clients-and that makes us unhappy too. There are established protocols for seeking help, and a large staff of writers who are normally willing to help a wayward newbie-and a staff of moderators and admin staff who are also available when needed.


Click here to read instructions on how to apply for a position within this team: http://paidforumposting.com/forums/index.php/topic,6455.msg66132.html#msg66132

And don't forget to tell Di that Bianca sent you!


Earning Money During a Quiet Month

Even though I have plenty of regular private clients every month, there are times when orders slow down and things get quiet. Most months my clients will order at the beginning of the month, with some ordering at the beginning of every week. This lets me know how to schedule my time and work out what else I can get done.

Believe me, March was insanely busy. In fact, it was a record-breaking month for me in terms of jobs ordered by clients AND income earned. I was loving it!

Unfortunately, there are months when clients simply don't need any work done and things go very quiet. April is that month for me and my business.

This is terrible news for someone with a mortgage to pay and a hungry daughter to feed! That's when my 'Plan B' of attack kicks in really hard to help the money keep coming in, just because I have this strange need for - well, you know - FOOD!

So here's how I've been coping with a really quiet April so far:

Constant Content

Constant Content is a tried and true back up income earner for me. I tend to sell quite a lot of very narrowly focused niche articles here every month. I've learned that the more narrowly focused the topic, the higher I can set the price tag on each article.

As an example, I've sold several 500 word articles this week already for a minimum of $100 US each article.

Now, I know everyone reading this is also a freelance writer, so I'm not going to give away my exact niche, (sorry guys...) but I will say it's to do with advanced financial topics.

However, rather than try to guess what a customer might buy, use the "Requested Content" section and actually write what customers are already looking for. This greatly increases your chances of a sale.

Reminding Clients About Services Offered

A good friend of mine gave me this idea, and I have to admit it's worked very well for me this month. I went back through the list of my private clients who haven't ordered anything for a couple of months and made a note of these.

Then I put together a shiny new price list that includes all my services. You know the type of thing I mean - a nice list showing the writing services I offer (SEO articles, blog posts, press releases, spun articles, reports, ebooks etc) and then showing all my prices for them clearly.

This often reminds clients that they don't need to just order one type of writing service from me. In fact, it can be a great way to showcase your range, especially to those clients who may not have realized you offer other services aside from the ones they've ordered from you previously.

Play with the Currency Exchange

One of the biggest benefits of being an international freelancer is playing the currency exchange to your own benefit. I only know of two or three freelance writers who do this on a very regular basis and it can be quite profitable - if you know what you're doing.

Here's a very simplified example of what I mean:

I'm Australian. This means I need to use Australian dollars to pay my bills, buy things I want and - most importantly - buy FOOD! (yes, it's lunch time. I'm really hungry. Is it obvious?)

But I don't always charge my clients a fee in Aussie dollars. Instead, I'll charge in a currency that either:

a) suits their particular global location


b) choose a currency that is more profitable for me at that point in time.

Last year, the Aussie dollar was worth about 0.82 cents per $1 US dollar. This means that if I charged a client $100 US for a job, I'd actually receive $121.95 AU. Nice!

Unfortunately, today the Aussie dollar is now worth more than the US dollar ($1.042 as of 12 April 2011). If I charged a client $100 US today, I'd only receive $95.96.  That's a pay CUT of nearly $26 per job for doing the same amount of work. That's just not acceptable!

So I emailed my clients and gave them an option. They can pay me in Aussie dollars, or they can choose to pay in Canadian dollars (CAD), UK Pounds (GBP) or even Euros (EUR). But for today, the only way I'll accept a payment in US dollars is to charge more money per job so I'm not going without.

This is difficult when a large portion of my client-base is American. Also, most clients hate price rises - even though they're aware that I'm receiving a pay cut as a result of keeping prices static.

But a girl's gotta eat... (I really should make some lunch soon, huh?)

Okay, that's enough of the math lesson. The point of that section was to illustrate how it's very possible to increase your income by being aware of the effect the changing values in currency can have to an international writer.

So... what tactics do you use to increase your income during those quiet months? I'd love to hear about them!



Freelance Writers Wanted

EDIT: this was published in February 2011. As people are still responding in November 2011, I've closed off the ability to leave any new comments. My friend has enough writers now. Thank you.

Yes, it's true. My friend is looking for freelance writers to write articles, web copy, ebooks, blog posts and other assorted jobs. There are far too many orders coming in for her existing team to keep up with, so she's seeking more.

Here are the basics:

You must be able to write in US or UK English. You must be able to follow the client's preferences for formatting and style. You must adhere to deadlines. You must be willing to communicate if you have problems meeting deadlines so someone else can help you. The topics vary all the time, so we never know what to expect next. You must not submit plagiarized work - originals only. You are only expected to accept the amount of work you can reasonably complete by the deadline date. You must be willing to WORK. And you must love writing.

It sounds easy, right?

However, there is a catch...

You see, she has several writers already working with her little team (some on a full-time basis, others part-time) and they seem to have plenty of work when they want it. But despite her best efforts in the past two weeks to find new writers, she's found only lemons.

Here's a run-down of just SOME of the quality for the most recent batch of  "freelance writers" has been like that she's seen in the past two weeks:

1. One writer began working for the team, accepted the work this writer felt could be done by the deadline shown and was promptly never heard from again, leaving those jobs untouched, incomplete and needing to be completed by someone else in a mad hurry to try and meet the deadline.

2. One writer was so desperate for any work at all that there were promises made of being able to complete at least 10 articles a day - every day - without any problems. My friend was happy that someone would want to do that, so accepted this writer based on the strength of good samples. Two articles were completed. Both were woefully written and not in native-English at all - in fact, not even close to the quality of samples shown. When asked to rewrite the first two articles submitted, that writer also decided it was too hard, didn't do them and didn't complete the rest of the orders that had already been accepted. Needless to say, that writer won't be receiving any more work.

3. One writer was absolutely thrilled to be a part of a team of professional, full-time writers and was eager to get started. This writer was given plenty of work to choose from - but promptly decided it was all way too intimidating and ran away.

4. Our next lucky contestant was told that each of the jobs allocated show the word count, the pay rate, deadline, keywords required and any formatting requirements that client expects. Of course, all work is Copyscaped checked for uniqueness before being submitted to the clients, so it goes without saying that you can't submit plagiarized work. The writer accepted some jobs and completed them very quickly. Unfortunately, they were copied directly of someone else's website. They didn't include the keywords required at the density requested - and they weren't even formatted in the way the client expects and is paying for.

5. Our final contestant picked up a reasonable, realistic amount of work, made it clear that the work would be completed on time and even gave updates to let my friend know they'd be on time throughout the week. Yet when the deadline day rolled around, that writer was nowhere to be found. No responses on email or Skype. No contact at all. In fact, it's been three days and still no contact. Someone else had to complete that already-overdue job in a mad hurry to get it to an angry client


If you think you're anything like any of the above ex-writers mentioned, then stop reading now. This post doesn't concern you. My friend simply doesn't need writers like this.

Writers who do these things don't tend to receive offers to work on a full-time basis. They don't receive repeat orders. Writers who accept jobs and promise to complete them on time, only to think of something more interesting to do instead also won't be needed.

However, if you believe you're able to write simple, legible articles in native ENGLISH (yes, we can tell...) and you can follow the client's instructions for the articles they are paying to have done THEIR way, you're welcome to apply.

How to Apply

As a way to test whether you CAN follow instructions or not, please apply by adhering to the following instructions. If you can't complete this simple step, chances are you won't be contacted.

Please leave a brief comment after this post letting me know of your interest in joining the team. Feel free to let me know if you've written before or not. If you're in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, or South Africa, let me know your location. If you live elsewhere in the world, you may still be considered, but your English will need to be of a high standard.

If you have a blog or a website, link to it where the comments section asks for your name and URL. Make SURE there is a way for me or my friend to contact you on that blog. If you have samples on your blog/website, we'll read them. If you don't, we may ask for them.

If you do not have a blog or website, please leave your email address formatted as follows:

yourname (at) extensionname (dot) com

Do not write out your email address in full using the @ symbol. This will encourage more spam to arrive in your own inbox and it brings way too many scammers to my blog.

If you can follow these instructions, my friend and I will be going through those compliant applications over the next week or so.

I'd love to see you all on the team, so don't let me down...



Is Freelance Writing Worth The Hassle?

Let's be honest here - full-time freelance writing as a career path can be a lot of hard work.

But is it worth the hassle, time and effort you put in?? Absolutely. I wouldn't dream of doing anything else.

I'm not talking about churning out a couple of articles in my spare time for a few extra bucks. I mean the full-time daily grind of writing something EVERY day, writing enough to cover all the bills, keeping up with client demands and deadlines, invoicing, converting currencies at opportune moments, and all the other associated bits that go along with being a full time freelance writer.

And yet I'm contacted by writers on a fairly constant basis wanting tips for how they can break in and really 'make a go of this writing thing'.

The answer is absurdly simple and it's available in some very easy-to-follow steps. Are you ready for them?

Step One: Apply your butt to your chair.

Step Two: Open a Word document, or other word processing file

Step Three: WRITE SOMETHING, stupid.

Yeah, it sounds cynical, I know, but there you have it - the basis of becoming a real, paid, full-time freelance writer. It never fails to surprise me how many people forget all about steps two and three in this industry.

So what do you do with those things you write once they're written? Why, you make the best possible use out of them, of course.

Upload them to Constant Content and see who buys them. Apply to a few content mills around the place and see if you can find clients who will pay you to move through steps one through three on a consistent basis. Advertise your services available on forums where people who need writers hang out. Use the pieces you write as samples to entice new clients. Create a blog and tell people you write stuff and you expect to be paid for it.

Be a little different and submit your articles to various article directories. Remember to include a link that points to your blog or website, which contains some form of monetization to help you recoup some costs for writing those articles (and maybe even churn a healthy profit if you're any good at it).

How to Know When You're Doing it All Wrong

If you've been following steps one, two and three on a consistent basis without being distracted by Facebook or Spider Solitaire and you're still not making any money, there's a really good chance you're doing it wrong.

Here are some tips to let you know when you haven't gotten those steps right:

1. You're given a paying job, with a real deadline and you forget to apply steps two and three.

2. You're offered steady, regular work by a client and you don't even bother to begin at step one.

3. You create a blog or website that advertises your writing services and it's full of mis-spelled words and horrendous grammatical errors.

4. You think you don't need to learn any more about freelance writing once you've figured out how to earn $3 for a 500 word article.

Once again, this might sound a little bit cynical, but you would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) by the amount of times I see people making these same four mistakes over and over again and they're confused why they can't make money in this freelancing thing.

The real secret to making a really respectable income as a freelance writer is simple. It's not even a secret.

Just sit down and write.

Stop complaining, stop whining. Get off Facebook and close MSN messenger for a while. Write something. Anything. Write articles. Write fiction stories. If you really want to be a writer so bad, you'll write.

If you don't enjoy writing enough to do it every day, go and submit your application to McDonalds. I hear they're hiring burger flippers at the moment ...



Freelancers Who Fall for the Hype

In the past two months, I've witnessed some really bizarre behavior from a couple of once-great freelance writers. From being serious full-time writers earning a full time income, they morphed into strange zombie-like creatures led by the nose towards the lure of the ever-present 'Hype-monster'.

You see, both of these writers often wrote articles, ebooks and web content for and about the Internet Marketing industry as a whole. Their job was to make it sound lucrative and easy and like something anyone can do. Actually, those things are true - affiliate marketing, Internet marketing and info-product creation really ARE things that are easy to start and anyone can do them - and after some time and effort they really can be quite lucrative.

What they forgot about is that it takes a whole lot more work and effort to get those things rolling than anyone ever expects or foresees. The market is also a whole lot tougher - and bigger - than most people anticipate. And that's for those people who have built up a name for themselves and their writing and from their previous success in Internet marketing.

Oh sure, I earn a decent enough living from affiliate sales and other forms of Internet marketing. But that doesn't mean I can rely on that income every month to pay my mortgage and cover my bills. It fluctuates from day to day, let alone monthly. It would be a lesson in insanity to believe that I could launch one simple PLR website and make a full time income from it. It would be absolutely crazy to assume that one basic ebook in a small, low-paying market niche is going to hit the jackpot and make me rich overnight.

And so I let that "passive" income roll in each month, but I still continue my life as a professional freelance writer, making sure I still keep my clients happy and never burn the bridges of anyone I've met before who could potentially become an ally in the future.

So why do people fall for the hype?

Why do they throw away lucrative freelancing careers that pay them actual real money every week and end up living on the smell of a dime just to pursue their belief that they'll "get rich quick" following the hype that we are partially responsible for creating?

Maybe those people were never cut out to be writers in the first place.

It's really the oddest thing to watch a once-great freelance writer stop being productive and turn into a blank-eyed zombie and head off down the path of the Hype-monster.

A PLR website is hard work (I know, I have a friend who owns one). Cutting ties with all your previous clients, not writing anything that earns an income and putting all your hopes onto one little website that has no chance of survival in a very small niche market is a little unusual.

Writing one ebook that is also in a very small, low-paying niche market is also a very strange way to ruin a freelancing career.

Don't get me wrong - I sell some PLR stuff on my friend's site and it does quite well. I also have a couple of ebooks selling quite well around the place. And yes, I own my share of affiliate marketing websites that bring in comfortable amounts of money each month. This is all done as a side-income to my primary freelance writing.

So why do people fall for the hype and believe that they don't need to work any longer?

I need to find a graphic that represents the evil Hype-monster that lures good writers away and turns them into mindless zombies : /